Monday, 16 February 2015

Quick tomato, bacon and balsamic pasta

Stuck for a quick tea for the kids over half term? This easy peasy pasta dish is as quick and tasty as they come. And can be knocked up in the time it takes to boil a pan of water for the pasta. 
I know what you're thinking, just get a jar of sauce from the supermarket, what can be simpler than that? But trust me, my version will be far tastier, fresh and only uses a handful of key ingredients, some being store cupboard staples. Salt and sugar levels are controlled with the kids. I was astounded at how much sugar they put in those jars...several tablespoons per 100g!!!!...(as I saw on Eat well for less programme on BBC the other night). Therefore a lot cheaper and makes a superb budget meal for the week. 
Whenever I ask the kids what they want for dinner, they always reply "pasta!!!!!", so I'm always trying to think of different ideas, with few ingredients with as little effort as possible. This sauce would also freeze very well in portions for an even quicker standby tea (perhaps on the days of after school clubs). I'm often wanting another alternative as quick as beans on toast. 

A good lug of olive oil
3 bacon rashers smoked/unsmoked roughly chopped
1-2 garlic cloves crushed
A few shakes of dried of either or all oregano/marjoram/Italian herb seasoning
1 tin chopped tomatoes 
Freshly ground black pepper
A good pinch of sugar
2 tsp sundried tomato pesto
A few shakes/drizzle balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp double cream

Start off by sizzling the bits of bacon in a wide bottomed pan in olive oil on quite a high heat. Until it starts to crisp up and go slightly brown, add the herbs and garlic. Then add the tomatoes. 

Meanwhile in another large pan boil the water for the pasta, add a few handfuls of your favourite pasta shape (I like Spiralli or fusilli with this as sauce clings very well). 

The tomato sauce should've reduced slightly and become thicker and more concentrated. At this point add cream, pepper, sugar, pesto and balsamic vinegar. Check for seasoning and taste. 

Once pasta is cooked to al dente, with a slotted spoon transfer it to the thickened creamy tomato sauce. Inevitably some of the cooking pasta water will go in, this is exactly what you want, this will really help the sauce cling to the pasta and will be silky. A sprinkling of with your favourite cheese, I tend to use either a Parmesan or Padano with a little cheddar, et voilá.

By all means this sauce would also work really well with roasted vegetables (peppers, courgettes, aubergines) and a few capers thrown in. Equally with chilli, but go easy for the kids. Prawns, chicken or tuna...the world is your oyster. 

Just thought I'd share my super speedy pasta that's always a hit with the kids. Bon appetite!!! 

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